The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Gambling operators urged to reapply or risk licences expiring


The Department of Internal Affairs is reminding the many gambling operators whose gaming machine licences expire this month to apply to renew their licences before Thursday September 30 if they are to continue to operate their machines.

The Acting Director of the Department of Internal Affairs’ Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Peter Burke, said that most licences to operate gaming machines expire on September 30 each year. There are 641 “gaming machine societies” and renewal applications for 527 of these are due before Thursday.

As at midday today 378 renewal applications had been received but the remainder (almost 30%) were still outstanding.

The Gambling Act allows a society to operate its machines on an expired licence only if it has made a complete renewal application and the application has not been refused.

Mr Burke said that the Department is happy to explain to societies what the law states and how the Department operates. However, it cannot make applications for them and cannot give legal or financial advice.

If societies are unsure about how to apply the law to their specific situation, they are strongly urged to get independent, professional legal and financial advice so that they can make their applications to the Department. This media release is not a substitute for legal or professional advice.
New licensing dates

This clustering of licence expiry dates arose under the now repealed Gaming and Lotteries Act.

The Gambling Act now in force allows the Department to use the new licensing provisions to stagger the renewal dates. Most licences issued in this financial year will be for slightly less than a year and some will be for slightly more. This will allow a more even spread of licence renewals across the year.

In future years licences will be issued for a year from their new expiry dates.

The licensing requirements of the new Act are much stricter than under the previous legislation. In some cases it will take longer to process applications. The Department has given licensing high priority for the next three months to ensure it processes applications as efficiently as possible.

Gambling sector background

As at 30 June 2004, there were 641 societies licensed to operate 22,497 gaming machines at 1,970 venues. Trends over time are:

  • a rapid decrease in the number of societies
  • a slow decrease in the number of venues
  • an increase in the number of machines until the Gambling Act was passed in September 2003 and, since then, a decrease each quarter.

    Societies’ gross profits have increased significantly over time. In the 2003 financial year they were $941 million. The 2004 gross profit is not yet available but is expected to have been more than
    $1 billion.

    Gaming machines are licensed in New Zealand as a form of community fund raising only. They are owned and operated by organisations known as gaming machine societies.

    Clubs are permitted to be societies and to operate their own machines in their own clubrooms. They are not required to make grants to other community organisations but may do so.

    Machines located in pubs are owned by societies independent of the pub. Pubs can be paid actual, reasonable and necessary expenses for hosting machines for a society. They must have no involvement in decisions about grants and must have grant forms freely available next to the machines.

    Media contacts

    Peter Burke
    Acting Director Gaming and Censorship Regulation Phone 04 495 9449, Cellular 027 242 1447

    Vince Cholewa

    Communications Coordinator Phone 04 495 9350, Cellular 027 272 4270